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Your Story: Living With Mental Illness

August 22, 2016

-- Dear Contributor, thank you for your courage in sharing your story

By N

I have (had) mental health issues since twelve years. I am on medication. This post might help some people get a better idea about mental health issues so I think it’s worthwhile.

Going through normal teenage experiences like thrills, highs and lows was a good learning experience. But what happened in my adult life was something I couldn’t have imagined or thought of. I had never heard of or read about mental illness. I was very much interested in exploring the outdoors...and how happy I felt. I trekked quite a bit and travelled. It felt great. I started staying in a small village in Maharashtra. I mean like staying for long periods -- like nine months at a time. It was exhilarating. Doing housework in a very quiet place...Doing groceries or painting the house. All that was cathartic. I was however lonely inside and dying for a romantic partner. After three years of rural experience I was however not feeling comfortable at all and came back to the city.

I met a psychiatrist immediately. This was in early 2002 when mental health issues were still not widely talked about. After taking medication I was a bit better. The loneliness however was overwhelming. I was without any romantic partner for a really really long while and it was pretty disturbing by now. It was during this period that I suffered major depression or clinical depression where one is unable to carry on even basic duties of everyday life. I was having suicidal feelings and ideas.
It was at that time that my psychiatrist suggested I go through a series of electro convulsive therapies. I read about it and took them. After taking four ECTs I felt pretty relieved.

 

 

It was during that time that I met a girl. She was nice. We met often. I used to explain to her my condition. She was understanding and supportive. We kept meeting for a couple of years. We met my psychiatrist several times. He was very thoughtful and was completely non judgemental. He did warn her about my mental health issues.

It happened that we got married. I was still having issues with my mind and used to meet the psychiatrist almost every month. Most times my wife accompanied.It was clear that my mental health issues persisted even after marriage. At that time I couldn’t do much let alone work.

After a couple of years of marriage I started helping a blind man who made handmade candles (@Sunrisecandles1) I made a small website and advertised on Google -- they got steady orders. And I kept doing more work, this time for our family business of used industrial equipment -- I again made a website and advertised on Google... I used to get lots of inquiries by email from far off places all over India. My father was soon able to sell significant stock of our inventory.

It was at that time that we had our child. Fatherhood made me think more deeply intellectually. I was trying to understand my illness, what was important and what was in my mind. All through these years I was on medication and met the psychiatrist almost every month. 

My thought patterns were however draining me. I used to get stressed out. I was having trouble taking a bath or going out of home for longer periods. It was at that time that I had to take several electro convulsive therapies again. The number of ECTs I had taken in total were eighteen up till now.

We had our second child.

I was quite unwell. My wife was however very encouraging and understanding all the while. I was having trouble managing. I however got great happiness of taking care of both children and was quite absorbed. I wasn’t however able to go out of house for long periods.

I am still on medication. I have been able to start physical exercise since three months . I am getting physically a bit better. I try not to get paranoid or anxious about my thoughts. I try to help my wife with things I can do. I have been able to walk for a longer distances. I do have bad days. I try.

 


-- You will find more information on mental health issues here.

-- There is also information on Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) available at the The National Institute of Mind Health site. Quoting from the site:

 

Electroconvulsive Therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) uses an electric current to treat serious mental disorders. This type of therapy is usually considered only if a patient's illness has not improved after other treatments (such as antidepressant medication or psychotherapy) are tried, or in cases where rapid response is needed (as in the case of suicide risk and catatonia, for example).

ECT: Why it’s done

ECT is most often used to treat severe, treatment-resistant depression, but it may also be medically indicated in other mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. It also may be used in life-threatening circumstances, such as when a patient is unable to move or respond to the outside world (e.g., catatonia), is suicidal, or is malnourished as a result of severe depression.
ECT can be effective in reducing the chances of relapse when patients undergo follow-up treatments. Two major advantages of ECT over medication are that ECT begins to work quicker, often starting within the first week, and older individuals respond especially quickly.


Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Brain Stimulation Therapies, Retrieved, August 22, 2016 from:  
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/brain-stimulation-therapies/brain-stimulation-therapies.shtml

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